What Is the Average Human Running Speed?

Running Woman

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Ever wonder how fast a human can run? You’re not alone. It’s cool to think about the body's capabilities, especially when it comes to physical feats like Eddie Hall’s amazing 1,102-pound deadlift and Usain Bolt’s mind-boggling 9.58-second 100-meter dash

Those impressive accomplishments are far from normal, though. Olympians may be able to run at speeds greater than 20 miles per hour, but what about the average person who doesn’t have the training capabilities—or the genetic makeup—of a world champion? 

How Fast Can the Average Human Run?

The average human running speed might surprise you. While there’s no hard-and-fast stat for this question, we can look to a number of different statistics to make an educated guess. There’s limited data that isn’t self-reported or theoretical concepts from computer models—meaning, it isn’t totally objective—so take these numbers with a grain of salt.  

According to a massive RunRepeat study based on more than 34 million race results, the average running times are approximately:

  • 35 minutes for a 5K
  • One hour and two minutes for a 10K
  • Two hours and 14 minutes for a half-marathon
  • Four hours and 26 minutes for a full marathon

A different set of data based on 10,000 race results says that the average mile time during a 5K run is 11:47 per mile. At 3.1 miles, that comes out to 36 minutes and 37 seconds, which is pretty close to the RunRepeat data. 

It should be noted, however, that this data is collected from race results. Just because a runner runs a race doesn't mean they are racing or running as fast as they can. Many runners will run for fun or run to help pace a friend or as a training run.

What is the Maximum Human Running Speed?

Any numbers you see regarding the maximum running speed of humans are mainly speculation. Because Usain Bolt holds the title as the world’s fasted runner, it’s safe to assume that his top speed of about 28 miles per hour is as fast as humans can go (until that record is broken, of course). 

However, some scientists believe humans may be capable of running at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour. That’s as fast as traffic on a lot of highways! Specifically, a 2010 study used computer models to show that based on the pounds of force human muscle fibers can withstand before breaking, the world’s fastest humans might not be running as fast as they actually can.

Computer models are entirely theoretical, though, so for now, we’ll stick to the well-known world record of nearly 28 miles per hour (which is still pretty darn fast).  

As an eyebrow-raising side note, some scientists think humans may only get faster if we start running on all fours. That would take quite a bit of practice for most of us!

What Affects Your Running Speed? 

Many factors influence how fast you can run, and your running speed may change from day to day. Some things that affect your speed include: 

  • Your effort
  • Your shoes
  • Whether you have any external weight on you, such as a backpack or hydration vest
  • The terrain you’re running on 
  • The weather conditions 
  • Your hydration status
  • How much sleep you got the night before your run 
  • Your training volume 
  • The type of training you do (for example, weightlifting or other types of cross-training)
  • How much experience you have with running
  • Genetics and physical factors, such as how long your legs are

Even your mood and the music you choose to listen to can affect your running performance on any given day. 

How to Become a Faster Runner

Your abilities as a runner are partly determined by genetics, but even those who feel the odds are against them can become faster runners by engaging in proper training and investing in proper running gear

Becoming a faster runner takes a lot of effort and dedication. You’ll need to increase your stamina and endurance along with speed, so you’ll get the best results by engaging in different types of training. 

A few types of run training that can help you become a faster runner include: 

  • Tempo runs: This type of running helps you develop your anaerobic or lactate threshold. It involves starting at an easy pace for five to 10 minutes, then running at about 10 seconds slower than your 10K pace for 15 to 25 minutes, and then concluding with another five to 10 minutes of easy running.   
  • Interval runs: Interval runs include segments of fast running followed by segments of easy running or walking. This allows you to develop speed and stamina simultaneously.
  • Fartlek runs: Fartlek running is similar to interval running, except it’s based more on feel. This is a great option when you had a structured interval run planned but feel pretty tired. 
  • Hill runs: You guessed it. Hill runs involve running up and down hills. This type of running strengthens your legs and your lungs to make you a faster runner. 
  • Trail runs: Varying your terrain can make you a faster runner on smooth roads.
  • Distance runs: Even if you don’t plan to run distance races, sprinkling in a few long runs here and there will significantly impact your endurance, which will make it easier to run faster for shorter distances. 
  • Sprints: All-out efforts represent one surefire way to get stronger. Try adding sprint sessions to your routine once or twice a week to improve your speed. 
  • Easy runs: Believe it or not, taking some days easy will do a lot of good for your running speed. Your body needs time to recover in order to adapt to all the training you’re undergoing. 
4 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Nikolova, V. Compare Running Finish Times [Calculator] - 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Marathon. RunRepeat.

  2. 5K Pace Comparison. How Does My 5K Pace Compare To Others? Pace Calculator.

  3. Weyand PG, Sandell RF, Prime DNL, Bundle MW. The biological limits to running speed are imposed from the ground up. Journal of Applied Physiology. 2010;108(4):950-961.

  4. Kinugasa R, Usami Y. How Fast Can a Human Run? - Bipedal vs. Quadrupedal RunningFront Bioeng Biotechnol. 2016;4:56. doi:10.3389/fbioe.2016.00056

By Amanda Capritto, ACE-CPT, INHC
Amanda Capritto, ACE-CPT, INHC, is an advocate for simple health and wellness. She writes about nutrition, exercise and overall well-being.